While the chorus of critics questioning the value of a college degree continues to grow, a new report finds that the benefits of attending college continue to outpace the rapidly rising tuition costs.
Released on Friday by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, the report calculates tuition increases based upon data from the National Center for Education Statistics and compares it to earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Study authors Adam Looney, the Hamilton Project’s policy director, and Michael Greenstone, the Hamilton Project’s director, found that “while college may be 50% more expensive than it was 30 years ago, the increase to lifetime earnings a college degree brings is 75% higher.”
Although the estimated return on investment from a four-year degree has dropped from almost 18% in the late 1990s to just below 16% today, it is still more than double the average return from other investment vehicles—such as stocks, bonds, or property. Looney and Greenstone also write that the monetary benefits of a college degree have also increased dramatically over the last 30 years.
A person entering college in 1980 could expect to earn approximately $260,000 more over the course of his or her working life, comparatively a person entering college in 2010 is estimated to be able to earn an additional $450,000 over the course of his or her career, reports the study.
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